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This is the Greatest Flapjack in the World, Tribute

2009/11/17

Many years ago, my then DB made World’s Finest Flapjack (WFF).

This is not a claim I make lightly. I like flapjacks very much and consumed many of them in my lifetime so far. Saying that, I have a fond loathing for the ones you can find in train stations and news agents. Those cellophane wrapped squares of misery are the very distant relations of this wonderful snack. A good flapjack is a home made flapjack. Like so many tasty home baked treats, a flapjack has the exuberant quality of Ready Brek – its makes you feel warm from the inside out.

How my then DB came to make the WFF was pure chance, and despite numerous attempts during our ill fated relationship to reproduce said WFF, he always failed. Rather miserably, may I add. Always too crunchy, often brittle and not the right balance of sweetness. It was my bane of discontent for quite some time and I can be rather petulant when things don’t go my way. I often ribbed my then DB, of this malaise, complaining how unfair of him to only be able to make the WFF only once. I often proclaimed with much melodrama, it would have been kinder to have never let me savour their genius. As time went on our search for the WFF became our un folie à deux.

Why wasn’t he able to reproduce the WFF? Well, my then DB had a cooking habit of never following a recipe, he always needed to meddle. And whilst often, an marked improvement was achieved of which I was much appreciative of, he never was disciplined enough to recall or record what he did. This all came to a head with the WFF, which as the fiasco continued, started to resemble the level of experimentation one reads in George’s Marvelous Medicine. My then DB took to desperate measures and took to surreal depths of analysis, trials and study. There was various sugars, syrups and oats all over the place. The kitchen turned into a mad scientist’s laboratory. Was it a different brand of rolled oats? What was the ratio of sugar to syrup? Was a variety of different sugars used? Will treacle make a difference? Or perhaps molasses? What oven temperature? How long? Anolon versus Teflon?  So on and so forth. The stakes we’re increasing to biblical proportion, but as for so many others, like the Holy Grail, the search for the WFF eluded us. It remains for my then DB an El Dorado of sorts.

That was many years ago. My pangs for WFF never went away. It rears it unsuspecting terror with random violence, and none more recent than in Winter 2008. I decided to take up the gauntlet. I started researching online; visiting forums, asking strangers for the perfect flapjack recipes, checking favorite recipe websites and cookbooks. But none yielded to the title of WFF. After much trial and error, I felt, most recipes over complicated the ingredients, and most failed because of the relationship between the proportion of sugar (liquid or solid) to the cooking time and heat. I considered it prudent, that although I was aiming for a grand slam, that it may be wise to set my targets a little lower, and settle for a Decent Flapjack (DF) first. With this in mind, I took my recent knowledge and decided to simplify the recipe altogether and reduce the ingredients to three essentials: butter, golden syrup and rolled oats. After studying a huge amount of recipes I had a good idea of the ratio and settled on  150g, 5 very generous tablespoons and 250g, respectively. There were two main oven temperatures and baking periods I needed to test. I made my two test batches. The air was palpable.  The first failed, but the second test did very well, a very DF indeed. The tried the recipe again, to ensure it wasn’t a fluke and I was awarded with a consistent result (175 degrees for 15 minutes).

I’ve since made the recipe about ten times and each occasion has yielded the same results. My DF recipe offers a firm texture, neither brittle or chewy. It’s a sweet but not too sweet morsel. It can rustled up within minutes (count ‘em: three ingredients only, very economic and child friendly). Most importantly, it does make you feel warm from the inside out. I have mine accompanied by a strong milky tea for breakfast and it makes a welcome start to the day.

I think its best if I back away from the gauntlet at this stage and quit while I’m ahead. Although my Decent Flapjack doesn’t reach the heady heights of the World’s Finest Flapjack, it does make a worthy tribute.

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